Ahead of their time: ‘Redbrand Credit Union’

In 1889, Peter Sommer invented a machine that wove steel wire fence to replace traditional wooden timber fences, making life easier for millions of American farmers. His invention spawned a midwestern steel giant, Keystone Steel & Wire Company.

Around 1925, Keystone introduced its first “Red Brand” fence. In a display of modern marketing savvy, a Keystone employee dipped the tops of Keystone wire and fence posts in red paint, making the new Red Brand products instantly recognizable on farms all over America. Today, Keystone still tops off these products with a coat of red paint – even the barbs on coils of barbed-wire.

In the fall of 1951, two Keystone employees learned about a credit union for Corn Products in Pekin. They concluded that having a credit union for Keystone employees would be a great idea. Dan Sommer, then president of Keystone, the credit union’s original sponsor, agreed. Sommer suggested the name of Redbrand, after Keystone’s fence, but spelled it as one word instead of two.

Redbrand logo

Bottom Line: This credit union will never need to change names. Over 50 years ago, it picked a progressive name (even by today’s standards) that makes an engaging connection to the credit union’s history and heritage.

Had the credit union gone with the obvious, ‘Keystone Credit Union,’ their name would have looked like a lot of other financial institutions – including Keystone Credit Union, Keystone Federal Credit Union, Central Keystone Federal Credit Union, Keystone United Methodist FCU, Keystone Community Bank, First Keystone Bank, Bank of Keystone, Keystone National Bank & Trust, and Keystone Savings Bank. And don’t forget megabank Key Bank.

Tip of the hat to you Mr. Sommer, for your creativity and courage.

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